"Working in the military, you get to a breaking point from time to time, and so I had taken up hockey to get my mind in check. I told people how much it was helping, and then on January 10th, 2016, I had my heart attack at 38 years old."
It was the year 2000 when Vince, a CANet Patient Partner supporting our VIRTUES Patient Working Group initiatives, experienced his first episode of Atrial Fibrillation, commonly termed AFib or AF. “I fainted dead away the first time I felt my heart go into AFib. I was 29, and I thought I was having a heart attack. Six years later, in 2006, I started cycling to work. I minded my diet and gradually shed 90 pounds to a healthy weight which I maintained for years. But despite being fit and in the best shape I had ever known, in 2019, my AFib episodes increased in frequency, intensity, and length. We quickly learned I had valvular heart disease, my mitral and aortic valves were failing, and my heart was enlarging. I needed surgery, and we began planning for early 2020.
"I came from a culture where you don't talk about your health; I was raised to believe that this was complaining, and it was especially true for women." Around 2006, she started to experience changes in her heart's rhythm.
David is a healthcare activist and is strongly rooted in his local community. Alongside his unwavering effort to support others, his relationship with food and nutrition began at a young age. "My grandparents and parents (as children) were able to leave a Russian 're-education' camp in Siberia with help from my great aunt in Argentina and a group of British activists. Before the revolution, they had lived and prospered in the Pale of Settlement and lost everything with their interment. I was born in southern Alberta at a time when "displaced persons" were still struggling to find acceptance in Canadian society.
Ann-Marie began experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib) symptoms at a young age. "I was 42 years old, and I happened to be at my family doctor's office for an appointment for one of my daughters who was sick. I had previously talked to the doctor about something funny with my heart rhythm, but it was episodic. Because it wasn't happening while I was there, she didn't want to send me for an ECG. While at my daughter's appointment, I said, "Remember when I talked to you about this heart rhythm thing? It's off now." She sent me downstairs in the building for an ECG right away, and sure enough, I was in AFib. That's where it began, and it was real.
“I became fascinated by the heart when I was 13 years old as a volunteer with the Red Cross. When I began to look for paid employment, nursing was big, so I went that route… and that’s where it led me for 30 years until my heart attack.” From cardiac nurse to cardiac patient, Kevin could predict that he, like his patients, would forge his path through cardiac care. “My journey started in March 2007 with a heart attack at age 47. I was fairly young, but it wasn’t unexpected because of my family’s genetics. I look like the men on my mum’s side of the family. I’ve got an uncle and a cousin, who, when we were together, people used to think we were father and sons. My mum had three brothers, two of which died of cardiac-related illnesses. One died of a massive heart attack at 52, and the second died of cardiac disease after a long battle that included several stents and a couple of bypass surgeries. The same weekend I had my heart attack; my father was dying in England from his battle with cardiac disease. He had his first heart attack at age 52 and...
A few days before CANet spoke to Diane Strachan, she had just finished a 3600-kilometre trip across Ontario on her motorbike. This would have been an insurmountable task a few years ago for her. "When I was first diagnosed with arrhythmia, I thought I would have to sell my bike," Diane - an avid biker - recalls. Between medication, fear, and not knowing what to do or expect to lead a normal life?
In his experience, CANet Patient Partner Hugh Winsor believes that patients need to combine their own lived experiences with a wider understanding of the cardiology and science involved in the proposed investigation. Only then can patients fairly assess the potential patient benefit from any proposed study.
CANet Patient Partner and Trainee Danaka Porter, recalls her history with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and how she leveraged that experience and unique understanding into her current role, amongst many other accomplishments, as PhD Candidate, Cardiology.